Plastic Wrap 101 – The Ultimate Guide

The use of plastic wraps is gaining popularity in modern packaging. From food industry, medical to pharmaceutical industries, they all depend on different types of plastic wrapping solutions.

This article will delve into what plastic wraps are, their benefits, ideal materials used to make them, how these wraps are made, etc. Read on.

What is Plastic Wrap?

Plastic wraps, also known as cling films or saran wraps, are very flexible, thin, and lucid plastic films that are used for sealing or covering food. They are known to keep products safe and fresh due to their strong seal.

Benefits of Plastic Wrap Packaging

Some benefits of using plastic wrap for packing include:

  • They will keep your food fresh for long periods of time.
  • Food moisture will be maintained.
  • Readily available
  • Easy to use
  • You can see through it and always have eyes on food.
  • Adds no weight to the package because it is light.
  • Can be used for leftover preserving.

Best Materials for Making Plastic Wraps

The best materials for making plastic wraps are:

Polyethylene (PE)

Under PE, there is the low-density polyethylene or LDPE as well as the linear low-density polyethylene or LLDPE. These are used commonly in making saran wraps, or cling films. They are used because they have top-notch clinging properties.

Polyethylene Wrapping
Polyethylene Wrapping

Some advantages of PE in making plastic wraps are:

  • They are versatile and can be used for different applications.
  • PE wraps come with clearness and are transparent.
  • PE cling films are very flexible for different sizes and shapes.
  • They are inexpensive.
  • Come with moisture resisting features.
  • They are light so will not add to the weight of packages.
  • Most of these wraps can be recycled.
  • Resists chemicals
  • Very easy to seal with adhesives or heat
  • Can be easily personalized where size, printing, and thickness.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

This is another unique packaging material that is used to make cling films. However, due to the health concerns that phthalates bring and its presence in producing PVC, this material is not common.

The benefits polyvinyl chloride or PVC offer include:

  • Provide high level of versatility
  • Transparent and clear
  • Affordable
  • Great moisture resisting features
  • Can resist tears and punctures which makes them durable
  • Easy to use
  • Can be easily personalized to meet your needs
PVC Film
PVC Film

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)

Most plastic bottles out there are made with PET. However, it is also used to make thin saran or plastic wraps.

Here are some advantages of PET:

  • Clear and transparent
  • Flexible to use
  • Durable
  • Strong
  • Light in weight
  • Unique barrier features
  • Can be recycled with ease
  • Versatile
  • Affordable
PET Used in Packaging
PET Used in Packaging

Polypropylene (PP)

PP is a very common material used in making plastic wraps. It is used in making different types of food packages.

Advantages of PP

  • Transparent
  • Flexible to use
  • Resists chemicals
  • Resists moisture
  • Can be sealed with heat
  • Light in weight
  • Can be recycled
  • Cost-effective
Polypropylene Film
Polypropylene Film

PLA Biodegradable Materials

PLA or polyactic acid is a biodegradable material that it obtained from cornstarch and is highly friendly and safe. Well, PLA is also used in making plastic wraps.

Here are some advantages of PLA:

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Can be recycled
  • Compostable
  • Healthy to use
  • Has great transparency features
  • Flexible
  • Sealable
PLA Film
PLA Film

Silicone Wraps

These types of wraps are made using silicone that is food-grade. Some of its advantages include:

  • Can be reused
  • Versatile
  • Provides you with an airtight seal
  • Free from chemicals
  • Easy to clean

The above materials are used to make plastic wraps because of their clingy characteristics and food maintenance abilities.

Silicone Wraps
Silicone Wraps

How Plastic Wrap is Made

· Preparing the Raw Material

Here, you will need to ensure the raw material you wish to use for cling films are prepared. You can choose from any of the types above. They mostly come in unique forms such as granules or even pellets.

· Melting Process

In this step, you will need to feed all the granules or pellets into an extruder. Extruders are machines that melt plastic using force and heat. Therefore, these pellets melt in the extruder.

· Extrusion

When melting of pellets are completed, it is extruded. Here, it is pressured through flat dies. This makes its shape thin and continuous. You will need to modify the speed and die gap of extruders to control sheet thickness.

· Casting or Blowing

Forming cling films can be done in two major ways. They include the casting and blowing methods. Based on what you choose, you can move on from this step with the ideal method.

Casting

  • Quench – With casting, the sheet that is obtained from step 3 is immediately passed over chilled rollers to cool it.
  • Stretch – After it is quenched, films are stretched longitudinally and widthwise. This is for the film to reach ideal thickness.
  • Anneal – After stretching, it goes through annealing. It happens through an ideal heating temperature.

Blowing

  • Blow – With blowing, sheets obtained from step 3 go through extrusion via a circle die. This leads to it forming a tube that is thin-walled. When done, some air is blown into it to become like a bubble.
  • Cool – The bubble is then made cool by air rings.
  • Collapse – When air ring cooling is done, it is collapsed within rollers to get a flat film.
  • Stretch – You can decide to have it stretched after is has gone through collapsing.
  • Cut – After stretching is done, you can have it cut to the ideal sizes you want.
  • Winding – Finally, you can wound it onto rolls.

· Sliting

After the ideal casting or blowing method has been completed as step 4 makes clear, larger rolls need to be divided into smaller rolls.

Step 6 – Rewind

With slitting done, they can then be rewound and packaged for sales.

How Plastic Wrap Works

Plastic wraps have a simple way of working. So, you will not have challenges with it.

  1. When used initially, it clings tightly to the package or container it is used on.
  2. Then it creates a seal that is very tight around containers to keep items inside.
  3. Plastic wrap, due to its elasticity, is able to conform to different sizes and shapes of containers.
  4. Plastic wraps stop any contaminants from having access to foods and also preserve them.

Uses of Plastic Wrap

  • Food industry

Ideal for food product packaging, to keep food fresh for long, to cover dishes, store ingredients, wrap sandwiches, etc.

  • Electronic and manufacturing industries

Used more to protect electronic parts from dust, etc. They are used to secure goods when they have to be stored and shipped.

  • Health and medical industries

Can be seen used in cover medical instruments that are sterilized, covering wounds, and medication packaging.

  • Construction industry

Ideal in covering and protecting building materials from dirt and moisture, and as short-term enclosures from weather elements, etc.

  • Agriculture industry

Used as a silage wrap to aid in animal feed fermentation and preservation, and for greenhouse covers.

  • Consumer goods

Common in packaging of clothing, household items, electrical devices, gift-wrapping, hampers, etc.

  • Textile industry

Used to keep fabric rolls and completed textiles safe from moisture, dust, and other contaminations when it is being transported or stored.

  • Automotive industry

To protect car parts from dust, or moisture when they are being shipped, stored, or being manufactured. Also, keeps car parts and paint from being tainted.

FAQs

1. Is Cling Films and Plastic Wrap the same?

Yes. They are both the same.

2. Are Plastic Wrap Food Safe?

Yes, plastic wrap, when used according to its make and type, is food-safe. However, when you buy cling films, make sure you check the labels for the food-grade mark before purchase.

3. Can you Microwave Plastic Wrap?

Yes. For plastic wraps that have a microwave safe label on them, you can microwave. Nonetheless, if it doesn’t have the microwave safe label on it, do not microwave.

4. Will Plastic Wrap Shrink when Heated?

Yes. Plastic wraps can shrink when heated under continuous high temperatures.

Conclusion

The use of cling films, saran wraps, or plastic wraps has come to stay. Many people use these wraps for different reasons. This article should give you a new meaning and understanding of these wraps.

More Resources:

Overwrapping Machine – Source: JOCHAMP

Shrink Wrapping – Source: JOCHAMP

Shrink Film vs Stretch Film – Source: JOCHAMP

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